Mike Bronco believes a degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale is a ticket out of life in a trailer park. He is determined to rise above his humble southern Illinois roots and broken home to become a clinical family therapist. His best friend Lynard "Lennie" Lake, has a simpler vision for the future. He is a firecracker enthusiast whose notion of the American dream is trucking school.
One day, fun-loving Lennie convinces the serious-minded Mike to shoplift "Near Beer" and enjoy a carefree afternoon of kicking back. The seemingly harmless exploit snowballs into an exploding Vega (an ill-conceived distraction), injuring store owner Ken Kenworthy and enraging his aggressive son, Rickey. The two offenders land in Jackson County Court and Mike's dreams of an exodus to the middle class and Lenny's trucking career are threatened. As this transpires, Mike's mother, Linda Bronco finds she has plenty to contemplate beyond paying rent. She still grapples with how her youthful indiscretions cost her a career in nursing; her would-be Pro-Wrestler husband, Jim, abruptly leaves and she loses her job at a local nursing home. Although her life's burdens hit Linda hard, Hell will freeze over before she allows the worst to befall Mike and Lenny. Even with no money at their disposal, the Broncos and Lennie believe at first that it will take a competent, sober lawyer to keep Mike's record clean and college-ready.
Next, the boys devise an ironic solution: a few trailer burglaries to raise the money to hire lawyer Ron Lake, Lennie's oily, turquoise-laden, ex-con grandfather, to take their case. When Linda catches the boys in the middle of a burglary, she steadfastly resolves to help them out, provided their spoils will finance Mike's college tuition. As the situation grows more desperate, the boy's worst fears are realized when Linda's twenty-something boyfriend to come along for the ride. The boyfriend, Brian Ross, is the town sheriff's son and a former high school football star and bully. As if it were not bad enough that Brian resumed tormenting and menacing Mike and Lenny, his ceaseless passion for ex-flame Sandy Lake complicates their already-complex plan. Sandy, who just happens to be Ron's post-adolescent trophy wife (and Lennie's step-Grandmother to boot), has bad intentions in mind for the boys. She sees their predicament as an easy opportunity to launch her own manipulative agenda.
During their bizarre journey to redemption and the promise of a better life, the boys throw all caution and common sense to the wind. With Mike's mom in tow, they execute a series of outrageously-plotted trailer park burglaries. With bigger threats and growing confidence, the boys move on to bigger hits at the nursing home and a fast food restaurant. Then things really spin out of control with several repeat visits to court, massive explosions, guns, fire and, to top it all off, a spectacular car/trailer chase with $250,000 in loot at stake. Not surprisingly, they are also hurled into the paths of Sunrise, Illinois most colorful characters including Suzi and Suzy, a pair of damaged-but-lovable townies, the crusty and outspoken Judge Pike, Carlton Rasmeth, an inept alcoholic defense counselor and Machado, an ambitious right wing prosecutor not to mention a host of good ole boys and girls who have various plans for Mike and Lenny that have nothing to do with higher education.
Despite the insanity, Mike and Lennie learn significant growing-up lessons in the most hilarious ways. While they tear through the highways, cornfields and courthouses of America's heartland, their bonds of friendship and trust grow stronger. Through zany trials and instances of mistaken identity, they endure many indignities, life-threatening situations, temptations and embarrassments. But they survive, determined to emerge with dignity, self-respect and an unyielding sense of humor.Tony Denman as Mike Bronco
Sean Young as Linda Bronco, Mike’s mother
Bob Koherr as Jim Bronco, Mike’s father
Jacob Tierney as Lynard "Lennie" Lake, Mike’s best friend
William Devane as Ron Lake, Lennie’s Grandfather
Jaime Pressly as Sandy Lake, Ron’s wife
M. Emmet Walsh as Judge Pike
Tim Kazurinsky as Carlton Rasmeth, an inept defense attorney
Richard Livingston as Prosecutor Machado
Charles Solomon Jr. as Bailiff
Doug MacHugh as Sheriff Ross
Todd Babcock as Deputy Haggard
Fred Belford as Officer Landaur
Michael Addis as Officer White
Jason London as Brian Ross, the Sheriff’s son
Craig Patton as Ken Kenworthy
Patrick Renna as Rickey Kenworthy, Ken’s son
Danielle Harris as Suzi
Kerri Randles as Suzy
Jacques Remy as McNeeley
Tim Mattingly was an uncredited extra (Truck driving school scene)
Christian Coogan wan an uncredited extra (Truck driving school scene)
Dylan Lipe was an uncredited extra (Bowling Alley Scene)
On the film review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 56% "Rotten" score. The consensus was that Poor White Trash was "silly and over-the-top, but not very funny."
On the film review aggregate site Metacritic, the film currently stands with a 23/100 score or equal to 23% based on 4 professional reviews. According to the site, that score falls into the "Generally Unfavorable Reviews" category. The best review (40% or 4 out of 10) on the site is from Luke Y. Thompson of New Times LA, who wrote that "Hilarity should ensue, but doesn't." The worst review (6% or 6 out of 100) comes from Kevin Maynard of Mr. Showbiz, who wrote that he'd "rather go on an all crisco diet than sit through PWT again". However, reader reviews are more favorable as it has two reviews with an average reader grade of 10/10.
On the film review site AllMovie there is no written review but it has been scored by the site, receiving two stars out of five.